Medical test could help doctors diagnose Alzheimer's Disease earlier

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Some East Texas doctors are using a fairly new test to help diagnose Alzheimer's Disease.

It's called a Photon Emission Tomography, or PET test, but it is not for everyone.

"It was tough, you know, it's, you never want to see, you know you're father fade away," said Randy Roberts.

Roberts brought his dad to get a PET test Monday.

"You don't want to walk around in the dark wondering what's really going on so it means the world," Roberts said.

He's hoping the test will help shed some light on his dad's condition.

Doctor Troy Coleman said a PET scan coupled with an MRI can sometimes help physicians detect early stages of Alzheimer's Disease.

"We can actually see the areas that are abnormal," said Memorial Health System of East Texas Radiologist Dr. Troy Coleman.  "You don't know for sure what is causing the abnormality, but there are specific patterns of abnormality that are very typical of Alzheimer's disease."

Coleman said the test is not really for people that know they have Alzheimer's or those that know they don't have Alzheimer's.  It's for doctor's that are not sure if their patient has the disease.

"A physician may see a patient and they're not sure what's causing their dementia and this test can, in many cases point out that we're strongly suspicious of Alzheimer's disease," Coleman said.

A suspicion could lead to early detection which means patients could start treating the disease.  And while there's nothing to reverse memory loss, even the prospect of answers means hope for Roberts.

"He will have good days and bad days of getting angry with it, does scare me and it's one of those things to where you never, you never want it to happen to you, you don't want it to happen to your family," Roberts said.

Coleman said he's hopeful with new research there will be more diagnostic tests available in the future.

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